New Cancer Treatments
For the past several decades radiation and chemotherapy were the cancer treatments most often used by doctors. These treatment tools were often referred to as “shotgun” approaches because they would harm and kill healthy cells as well as cancer cells. But as we have seen throughout history, new technology will provide new tools – in this case, new cancer treatments. These new cancer treatments are “rifle” approaches in that they only target cancer cells and do very little or no harm to healthy cells. These new treatments will and are changing how doctors treat their cancer patients.
The United States accounts for more than 50% of the new cancer cases reported worldwide. In the next 15 years some experts are predicting that the number of people diagnosed with cancer worldwide will increase by almost a factor or ten. Obviously new treatment tools in the battle against cancer is important not only in the United States but for other around the globe.
The Most Promising new Cancer Treatments
- Antibody-drug Conjugates
- Signaling Pathways
Antibody-drug Conjugates (ADCs) are also referred to as “smart bombs” or “cancer smart bombs.” ADCs are antibodies that have been modified by scientists and they are designed to identify and kill cancer cells with a chemotoxin (the bomb). Other versions of ADCs use other strategies to assist in the killing of cancer cells. Some ADCs will 1) block the growth signals of the cancer cells, and 2) help identify the cancer cells for the patient’s immune system. Some ADCs under development possess a “triple threat” to cancer cells – chemotoxin, blocking cancer growth signals, and identification of cancer cells for the patient’s immune system
Immunotherapy is a strategy that helps a patient’s immune system recognize cancer cells and then kill them. One of the major problems in the battle against cancer is that the body’s immune system has trouble finding and identifying cancer cells among the healthy cells. Immunotherapy holds great promise because it is the body’s immune system killing the cancer cells, not a foreign toxin. Immunotherapy is currently delivered as a vaccine and is being tested in prostate, breast, lung, cervical, and head cancers.
Signaling Pathways are normal pathways that the body uses to regulate cell death, which is a normal function and leads to the generation of new cells. However, cancer can “hijack” these signaling pathways in their quest to reproduce and spread. New Signaling Pathways treatments are designed to prevent cancer cells from “hijacking” this normal body function.
It will take time to develop these and other new cancer treatments. However, their potential to help cancer patients is exciting and huge.
Often cancer patients will experience chronic pain. Call us about your pain treatment options.